Trudy Hodges discovered early in her career that people who work with the handicapped are “people who really care about other people.” Trudy’s co-workers share that attitude and she considers it the foundation for the bond that she has shared with many of them for the past sixteen years.
Trudy is the Public Relations and Education Coordinator for Recycle Plus. She gives presentations in elementary schools as part of the Grade 4 curriculum program called “Waste in Our World.”
Raising recycling awareness is an important part of Trudy’s job and she notices that in the schools, younger and younger classes are coming to Recycle Plus for tours. The children are amazed at the machinery but they don’t always understand the entire recycling process. Trudy weighs the students on the scale so that each child knows how many kilos he or she weighs. At the end of the tour, Trudy shows them a bale, which weighs very close to their own weight.
At the beginning of a tour, Trudy explains the connection to the Association of the Mentally Handicapped. The children always notice the clients, who are very excited at their visit, so she tries to prepare the classes and make them comfortable with the idea that some of the employees are not what they might expect.
Trudy says that, where work is concerned, the clients “do a job just like everybody else” and get satisfaction from doing a productive day’s work. They are very enthusiastic and love being given something to do outside of their regular routine. Sometimes Trudy takes clients along to help with the office recycling pickups and she says they love it.
Trudy is often asked why recycling is important. She recommends a tour of the landfill as a way to see first hand the amount of recyclable waste that ends up there. A glass jar can sit there for a few hundred years before it breaks down. She is amazed and appalled at all the waste in the landfill that could be taken to the recycle plant. “It makes no sense that we cover all this stuff up with dirt.” With the Recycle program, waste has a chance to be turned into useful products once again.
Grande Prairie’s booming economy makes attracting and retaining staff a constant concern. The turnover is more obvious in the bottle depot where the work is dusty and dirty. Trudy gives the workers credit for sticking with a difficult work environment.
Trudy runs an Office Recycling program with co-worker Stacy Boucher. The bottle donation program at Aquaterra is an initiative of Recycle Plus as well. The proceeds from the donation program are given to local charities and last year the total exceeded $36,000. In 2001, Recycle Plus won the provincial Emerald Award for excellence and Trudy is very proud of that accomplishment.
Trudy describes Recycle Plus as one big family. Staff camaraderie, even during the tough times, is one of the things Trudy enjoys best about working at Recycle Plus. She looks forward to going to work each day and considers herself lucky for that.